Nov 05 2017

Literary tradition rising from prison

The publication of a book of short stories by an incarcerated politician is being hailed by some as the start of a new chapter in the country's long history of prison literature.

Majority-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party co-chair Selahattin Demirtaş's book Seher – consisting of 12 short stories that touch upon the surreal, despotic and absurd – has gone through five editions already despite only coming out last month.

Oya Yağcı from Evrensel newspaper said the language used by Demirtaş had a way of shaking up the reader and making them think again about the government's actions.

Demirtaş knows and understands the language of those who have been persecuted in the past, she said, and his publication represents a new "splinter in the Turkish political tradition".

Yağcı said  that thus Seher is an act of resistance in itself:

I think that what we have to talk about is not his writing success but the way he does it. The language and the heart of a rights advocate who is serious about the work he does rather than about himself, is plain and simple. The elasticity gained by the struggle against the irrationality of a tyrant and a feeble-minded state has produced a style in which ingenuity, mathematics and a quick-wit have all merged. For human rights seekers who know the universal philosophy of law, he seems to have discovered the "absurd" vein fed from the state into the parliament-court-prison triangle.
Against those who keep politics out of sight, inside the walls of parliament and the party, Demirtaş creates a policy of intimacy and inclusiveness as an alternative. For this reason, he is witness to the femininity in his stories, which he has filled with anti-heroes in the masculine-patriarchal tradition.

According to Yağcı, the importance of Seher lies in its both being against the creation of heroes and of victims, and its placement of those who struggle in the centre.

 

Read Oya Yağcı's article in Turkish here: